Will travel for art

Travel and a change of place impart vigour to the mind. We second Seneca, and so do a majority of art communities. A tryst with adventure or an opportunity to interact with strangers from diverse fields can trigger your creative side. Facilitating such experiences is an increasing number of art residencies across the country, the most recent being the Sama Foundation for Art Research and Mindfulness. Situated 800 feet above the main lake in Kodaikanal, and overlooking the Chinnapallam valley, it opened on April 15 — with Indian contemporary artists, Dhiraj Choudhury and Amitabh Sengupta, as its first artists in residence. If you’d like to stick to the plains, however, here are three unconventional picks.

Artpackers, Alappuzha

Will travel for art

A dilapidated, 1930 building with Dutch architecture in Alappuzha, Kerala, is now an art hostel. “I always wanted to do something for backpackers and for the art community,” begins Vivek Lilladhar, who, along with his school friend, Jobin Wilfred, came up with Artpackers, a space where backpackers can stay and also do art. “We want to encourage and promote ethnic art (coir work, canoe crafting, coconut craft, etc), along with walks and cycle tours of the heritage lanes, spice warehouses and fishing villages of the town. This is an addendum to the existing tourism here, which predominantly revolves around houseboats and backwaters,” explains the 29-year-old, who did a course in Advanced Textiles and Performance Clothing at the University of Leeds, England.

Ever since Artpackers opened to the public late last year, they have had close to 800 visitors from over 35 countries — all this without even having a proper website to start with. They get most of their enquiries on Facebook. Lilladhar recalls how, just a year ago, it was doubtful if the fledgling idea would translate into reality, given that their campaign on TravelStarter, a global crowd funding platform for tourism, fetched them only a meagre $100. So the duo invested their money. Now, with studio spaces, private rooms, dormitories and bright LED lights hanging from trees, the bed and breakfast is unrecognisable. “While the average duration of stay is three to four days, last month we had a German couple with us for a month,” he says. “We encourage all kinds of artists — musicians, visual artists, instrumentalists, etc, to stay with us. Isabell Heusinger, a German art teacher, spent over a month here, working on a series on Kerala women. We also conduct workshops, and encourage people to express themselves through colour and canvas.” Lilladhar hopes to collect and paste these canvases on a wall, as an ode to the experiences shared. Details: 09447139396

Periferry, Guwahati

Will travel for art

In the summer of 2007, a ferry moored on the Brahmaputra got a new lease of life when two National Institute of Design students, Sonal Jain and Mriganka Madhukaillya, saw the scope of turning it into a public art space in it. Jain, a native of Shillong, had been interested in learning about borders and how they impact the exchange of creative ideas. “So when I saw the ferry on a transnational river that crosses four countries (China, India, Bangladesh and Nepal), I became interested in it,” she shares. Periferry is housed inside the MV Chandardinga, a vessel that had, in the past, sailed from India to Bangladesh to ferry people and goods.

Leased from the government, and promoted as a creative space for art and dialogue, the residency project has had artists like Sanchayan Ghosh from Shantiniketan spend 19 days on it, engaging in conversations with the local people, as part of The Anchor House camp a few years ago. “Another project had an artist from Brazil stay and create a ‘spiral installation’ using bamboo. It included several layers — gravel, stone and sand, just like a filter. As a performance art, he poured river water into it and then poured back the purified water into the river again,” says Jain, who has also co-founded Desire Machine Collective, a company based in Guwahati that comes up with creative installations. Yet another recent project, sponsored by the India Foundation for the Arts, involved a filmmaking workshop on the green ferry. “Our aim is to engage the community. This year, we want to make it a moving project — travelling with artists on board to Dhaka,” she concludes. Details:

Ananda Vanam, Tiruvannamalai

Will travel for art

As a young adult, 50 years ago, Ananda Surya had felt the pull of Tiruvannamalai, the home ground of saints like Ramana Maharshi. “The energy attracted me and I used to come here often for meditating,” says the poet, over a call. Meeting Spain-born artist, Gayatri Gamuz (pictured right), at Gokarna in Karnataka, further cemented his idea of settling down in what was already a ‘home’ in his mind. “We stayed in rented spaces and, over a decade ago, when my second son was born, we bought land here and decided to make our home,” he says.

Since then, Surya and Gamuz have expanded their haven to accommodate visitors, and, in the last four years, they’ve had artists coming to stay, along with some who just want to meditate. “We have an exclusive art studio where Gayatri works, and now we are in the process of constructing a cob hut as an area for meditation, under the guidance of natural architect Biju Bhaskar, besides a library and kitchen.” Every year, they get around three to four visitors, including sculptors and students of architecture. One of them was Miguel Angel Lancha, a ceramist from Toledo, Spain, who visited in 2011. During his stay, besides moulding and firing his clay, he also built a kiln on the property. “We use the kiln to conduct terracotta workshops for local children. We also have clay and tools in the open studio for the community to use,” says Surya, adding, “Our doors are always open to anyone who wants to learn and share. We don’t ask for rent; if they want to leave a work of theirs with us, we are happy to have it.” Details: 09629793305

Others to check out

The Mirage, Himachal Pradesh hosts artists, travellers and yoga enthusiasts; Space118, Mumbai is a 15-minute drive from Kala Ghoda, and they organise workshops, too; Art Ichol, Madhya Pradesh offers an art gallery, bronze foundry, ceramic studio, and more; Khoj, New Delhi is a space run by artists, for artists; What About Art? (WAA), Mumbai is an arts management agency offering specialised services; Jaaga, Bengaluru encourages creative solutions to urban issues; Kanoria Centre for Arts, Ahmedabad is a working environment for art students and professional artists; Cholamandal Artists Village, Chennai is India’s largest self-supporting artists’ village

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Printable version | Oct 20, 2021 7:34:27 AM |

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